Available now on Paw Tracks (June 12)
“Every day of every year, I wonder what I’m doing here,” sings Dent May on “Home Groan.” The song is an anthem for small-town kids, or anyone that forgoes tastemaker cities to stay put. The sentiment is also representative of themes woven through the album, Do Things, as May muses on existence—from friendship to finding life’s meaning—with plenty of synth and slightly twisted Beach-Boys-style harmony.
Lyrically, May is willing to challenge convention. Throughout the album, he urges listeners to believe in themselves and their ability to transcend difficulties. “There was a time when I never thought that I’d feel good again,” sings May in a vaguely doo-wop style on the album’s title track. The moral of this story? “Do things your own way.” Similarly, “Find It” empowers listeners, telling them to stand by their dreams and discover life’s meaning for themselves. “Rent Money” and “Parents” reflect on frustrations with the adult world and focus on staying true to oneself in spite of disappointments and obstacles.
There’s not a traditional love song on the album, though there’s plenty of love. May mentions the importance of friends in at least 4 tracks. And while “Best Friend” seems to address a lover, the focus is on their long and reliable friendship. “Wedding Day” and “Don’t Wait Too Long” speak to the challenges of finding romantic love, and in “Tell Her,” he sings about the frightening prospect of expressing love once it has been found. In each of these cases, May has an answer: “don’t worry,” “do what feels right,” “say what you feel.” The takeaway is consistent: trust life’s process and live from the heart.
Musically, the album is joyful and a bit experimental. May is not afraid to sound like a warped video tape of a Beach Boys concert, but most of the time he pulls it off. The liberal use of synthesizer, drum machines, funky bass lines, and close harmonies make for a lovingly campy sound. Comparisons to the solo work of Animal Collective’s Panda Bear would be fair. Of course, that makes Dent May a logical pick for Paw Tracks (Animal Collective’s label). Still, Do Things won’t fail to surprise and—for Panda Bear fans—delight.
Do Things is a refreshing combination of experimental play, honesty, and optimism. The world is a strange, overwhelming place—perhaps most confusing at young adulthood. Rather than offering tools for navigation, Dent May urges listeners to throw out the map, get lost, and experience the surroundings. “Don’t know what’s in store for me,” he sings, “but I think it’s gonna be fun.”